I wonder if the setter knew it was my turn, and deliberately included Arsenal and Chelsea, Spurs’ London rivals, and Everton who beat us by the odd goal in nine last night to dump us out of the FA Cup. At least the location of our state of the art training facility, Enfield, also gets a mention. Otherwise, this occupied me for 16.53, which makes it the trickiest of the week so far, but not by much. I rather liked the style of cluing, with many devices represented, sometime two or three of the set in a single clue. I think the “piece of verse” was a lesser-known last time I logged it, but apart from a couple of bits of general (but not necessarily that general) knowledge the words to be entered are of the common variety and shouldn’t tax you too much. The great majority of the definitions are single words, which may be distinctive.
I have transcribed for you the clues, underlined the definitions and put the SOLUTIONS in bold capitals.
1 Great bit of coiffure with king leaving church (3-5)
TOP-NOTCH The bit of coiffure is a TOP KNOT, as sported by Gareth Bale currently. Remove (leaving) the K(ing) and add the conventional CH(urch)
5 Pass on name taken from dancing wenches (6)
ESCHEW Pass on as in “I’ll pass on that” and not the more usual die. Take N(ame) out of WENCHES and make the remainder dance until they end up in the desired formation
10 Wheels secured by new tool men pick up in race (5,5,5)
MONTE CARLO RALLY Start by deciding the wheels are a CAR. Then assume “new” indicates an anagram and surround (secure) the CAR with the letters of TOOL MEN tastefully arranged. Add RALLY for pick up, as in the sick man rallied. Or just bung the whole thing in without too much thinking.
11 Coming out of their shells, Brad and Lucy not just loud (7)
RAUCOUS Four words contribute their internal letters, as indicated by “coming out of their shells”. So bRAd, lUCy nOt jUSt.
12 Proof one's passed hummus, say, all of meal regularly put away (7)
DIPLOMA The surface suggested a rather unsavoury examination of one’s poo, but break the definition as indicated, and hummus is then an example of DIP to which you add the odd/even letters of aLl Of MeAl.
13 Irritation overwhelming terribly shy figure (8)
PHYSIQUE Irritation equals PIQUE, which “overwhelms” an anagram (terribly) of SHY
15 Governess protecting current brood here (5)
EYRIE It helps if you know the sometime profession of Jane EYRE, and that I is the conventional symbol for electric current. “Protect” one with the other for the brood location.
18 Ex-PM who will be given a hand at the table (5)
NORTH Prime Minister of the UK 1770-1783, so responsible for ridding the country of the burden of running America. Also a position at a bridge table.
20 Declare a cat can be heard (8)
ANNOUNCE Sounds like AN OUNCE, being (according to Chambers) an epithet given to various types of large wild cat.
23 Everton vacated ground somewhere in London (7)
ENFIELD Likes to describe itself as London’s top borough, which is at least geographically true. Vacate EvertoN, leaving just the EN, add FIELD for ground.
25 Defence in Arsenal's opening games in division (7)
PARAPET A***nal’s opening is A, games are what we used to call PE at school. Stick those into PART for division.
26 Be the lead in Hamlet, say, taking king in hand with piece of deception (4,5,6)
PLAY FIRST FIDDLE The lead both literally as first violin in an orchestra and in figurative senses. Hamlet is a PLAY, put R for king into FIST for hand and complete with FIDDLE for piece of deception.
27 Place promoting weight-loss tablet (6)
LOCALE Promoting weight loss is LO-CAL and the tablet of choice E(cstacy), but don’t say I said so.
28 Very green, dewy ground around island and river (4-4)
WIDE-EYED Chambers allows naïve as one meaning. The letters of DEWY are spread randomly (ground) round I(sland) and the randomly-selected river DEE.
1 Sentence about revolutionary R&B sound (6)
TIMBRE Sentence is (prison) TIME placed around the letters R and B in reverse order.
2 Clerk in high spirits, entertaining new escort (9)
PENPUSHER Lat in, as I was looking for an escort. High spirits is/are PEP (“full of”), N(ew) is inserted and USHER for escort completes
3 Heavy figure to excite briefly (7)
ONEROUS Today’s second figure, here wordplay indicating ONE. Excite briefly gives ROUSe
4 Order from Cheltenham's Head Girl (5)
CLASS Cheltenham’s Head is C, and girl is the generic LASS
6 What wine's knocked back in some verse? (7)
STROPHE A reverse (knocked back) of EH for what and PORT’S for wine’s
7 Terrible experience with love? I'm surprised (5)
HELLO Terrible experience is HELL (though CS Lewis opined that a hell for men and a heaven for mosquitoes could easily be combined). Add the O/0 for love.
8 Traveller, much prettier, getting picked up (8)
WAYFARER Well, yes, does sound like (picked up) WAY FAIRER, a lot prettier.
9 Move to invest pounds, running club (8)
BLUDGEON Last in, looking for a running club like Harriers or somesuch. However, move is BUDGE, with an L for pound “invested", and running is ON.
14 Jam accompanying a track started by Queen (8)
QUANDARY Accompanying gives AND (easy to miss), a track gives A R(ailwa)Y, and QU(een) starts
16 Cost dropping right down, lend yen for Asian growth area (4,5)
RICE PADDY I’m not sure of this, and I suspect an error. Cost is PRICE, but you don’t drop the R(ight) down, you drop the P. Lend is ADD, and Y(en) completes. Cute definition.
17 Let rip on spreading force globally (8)
INTERPOL A straight anagram (spreading) of LET RIP ON
19 Attentive husband required to go topless (7)
HEEDFUL You need H(usband) before making required, NEEDFUL lose its top.
21 Elevate the core of sun worship (7)
UPRAISE The core of sun (another middle) is U, and worship PRAISE.
22 Go to the races after a knock on the head (6)
ATTEND I’ve only just worked this out. The races are TT, placed after A, and knock on the head produces END
24 Currency smuggled into Chelsea, say (5)
FRANC Smuggled is RAN, and Chelsea is (allegedly) a F(ootball) C(lub). Insert one into the other
25 In art, children phrase it the wrong way (5)
PUTTI Simple enough, once you split definition from wordplay. Phrase is PUT (that’s one way to phrase/put it) and IT the wrong way is TI. Putti are chubby, usually quasi angelic small nude male children, the depiction of which might well draw the attention of the authorities, possibly even Interpol, in today’s moral climate.